Jun 13, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
The racing community is very tight knit and when a loss of anyone occurs, it hits everyone in some way, shape or form. Though Jason Leffler‘s NASCAR career was where he made most of his living from 2001 onward, he was a rising open-wheel star from the late 1990s through 2000.
Leffler, from Long Beach, Calif., started out racing USAC midgets. He promptly won three consecutive USAC Midget championships from 1997 to 1999, and in 1999, also won two of short track racing’s biggest events: the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Copper World Classic.
He met Roger Penske in 1998 at the Hut 100, and his progress also caught the eye of Joe Gibbs. Leffler made his IndyCar debut as the replacement for a fairly big name in the sport, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, at Walt Disney World Speedway in 1999. A year later, in a car that had Penske support but was not Penske-entered, Leffler made his debut in the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and finished 17th.
A statement from INDYCAR said the following: “INDYCAR extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Jason Leffler for their tragic loss. Jason was a USAC champion who made three INDYCAR starts, including the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
This was from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and its COO Doug Boles: “We are very saddened at the passing of Jason Leffler. He was one of the most versatile race drivers in America, showing his talent by competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his career. He also displayed the skills that would help him reach the top levels of the sport by winning four USAC national series titles while winning on tracks throughout the Midwest. Jason was a terrific guy who always had time for everyone. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his entire family, team and fans.”
Lastly, Panther Racing fielded Leffler in several USAC Silver Crown races in 2004. From Panther’s managing partner/CEO John Barnes: “I was shocked to hear tonight about the passing of Jason Leffler. Jason was a friend and former driver of Panther Racing. He was one of the most versatile drivers I have ever met. He reminded me so much of Parnelli Jones. We will miss his fierce competitive spirit and his devilish attitude. He constitutes the old saying, ‘It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ Jason was a small man with a huge right foot. Our prayers go out to his entire family, and especially his son Charlie. He will be forever missed.”
Few of the current IndyCar drivers had the chance to race Leffler directly, but they share the sadness and the memories nonetheless. A sampling of tweets from the IndyCar community, drivers and teams, are below:
So sad we lost Jason Leffler tonight. Can’t imagine what his family is going through. Thoughts & prayers go out to them. #PrayForCharlie
— Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) June 13, 2013
Man, so sad to hear about Jason Leffler. Obviously such a talented guy, thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
— JR Hildebrand (@JRHildebrand) June 13, 2013
Rest in peace Jason Leffler. A tough competition and a great guy. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) June 13, 2013
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) June 13, 2013
RIP @jasonleffler. Didn’t know him but incredibly sad to see a fellow driver pass away doing what we love.
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) June 13, 2013
— Justin Wilson (@justin_wilson) June 13, 2013
Praying for all of @jasonleffler family, especially his little guy Charlie.
— Ed Carpenter (@edcarpenter20) June 13, 2013
Tough to hear news like that. Didn’t know him personally but a friend of racing is a friend of mine. Thoughts are with JL’s family. #LEFturn
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) June 13, 2013
My heart goes out to Jason Leffler’s family, so sad Jason lost his life tonightRIP @jasonleffler
— Arie Luyendyk (@ArieLuyendyk) June 13, 2013
The fraternal commitment made to each other makes the loss of Jason Leffler hard to accept – his passion was universal.
— Mike Hull (@IndyMHull) June 13, 2013
Our prayers go out to @jasonleffler, his family,and friends.
— Penske Racing (@penskeracing) June 13, 2013
Jul 30, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT
Discounted tickets set to go on sale this Friday in a bid to improve attendance figures.
Jul 30, 2015, 4:48 PM EDT
Derrick Walker on the prowl for whatever’s next in his long racing career.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Despite running fifth in the standings with three races to go, Power hasn’t given up on retaining the no. 1 for 2016.
Jul 30, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT
The 2016 F1 season is set to swell to a record 21 races.
Jul 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Ericsson reflects on his first half-season with Sauber that has brought his first points in F1, but also presented some missed opportunities.
Jul 30, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
Derrick Walker to resign from INDYCAR at year’s end.
Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
With seven races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend, it’s an important one for the entire Mazda Road to Indy.
Jul 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
His recent record may suggest otherwise, but Castroneves believes he can gun for the race win this weekend.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Both series will support the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Bahrain International Circuit in November.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:16 AM EDT
From Columbus, Ohio, No. 15, it’s the Ohio State University helmet of Graham Rahal…
Jul 30, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT
The third-to-last race of the IndyCar season is an important one for the championship battle.
Jul 29, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
IndyCar penalizes Honda for five engines that did not “attain their life cycle.”
Jul 29, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT
Rahal is second in the points and takes his career best season to his home track of Mid-Ohio.
Jul 29, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
Johnson will make his first start of 2015 this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Jul 29, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Simon Pagenaud looking for first top-fin finish since Detroit race one.
Jul 29, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
In eight IndyCar races at Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon has a record five wins.
Jul 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
There’s still a good seven to 10 high-quality drivers without a win in IndyCar, 2015, who could add to the list of winners.
Marcos Ambrose looks to salvage lost season in V8 Supercars, has had no issues ‘moving on’ from NASCAR
Jul 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
Even though it has been pretty much of a lost season for him in Australia’s V8 Supercars series, Marcos Ambrose believes he can still find some success before the racing year is over.
‘Race With Restraint’ proves grassroots racers want, will use more safety equipment at affordable rate
Jul 28, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT
The first attempt at bringing top-of-the-line safety equipment to the grassroots racing masses was an unqualified success.
Jul 28, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
Hector Arana Jr. hopes 2015 is about time to finally be his time.
- Exploring what’s next for Derrick Walker as he announces he’s leaving IndyCar 0
- INDYCAR announces Derrick Walker has resigned from series 8
- Preview: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio critical in IndyCar title chase 1
- It’s “never-say-die” for Graham Rahal with three races left 1
- Paralyzed driver Michael Johnson returning to track in Pro Mazda 0
- Simon Pagenaud ‘agonizingly close’ to wins at Mid-Ohio, not to success in 2015 0
- With three races left, who could still win in IndyCar, season 2015? 1